An Autobiography Sculpted in Steel

Posted By : Anantha Narayanan K

If “Art is an imitation of life”, then artist is the one who views life from unseen angles to absorb its entirety and transform it into a piece of art. Balan Nambiar is one such artist who has sculpted his own life out of the six decades of his artistic research and experience. Nambiar is one of India's leading contemporary artists and perhaps, the pioneer in stainless steel sculpting. Being a painter, sculptor, photographer and academic researcher, Nambiar is a multifaceted artist who, through his collection of works, has shown the world how one’s life contributes to his artistic genius. Recently, Nambiar has held an exhibition, ‘Sculpting in Time’, as a retrospective of his life’s work which was curated by arts critic and editor Sadanand Menon.

The month-long exhibition at National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore has showcased Nambiar’s metal installations and multi-genre works which included more than 50 sculptures in stainless steel, enamel paintings, drawings, photographs of Bhuta and Theyyam etc. The exhibition is Nambiar’s first solo exhibition in Bangalore in the last 10 years. He is the only artist in India who has held a solo-exhibition of stainless steel sculptures. Nambiar’s art works are a blend of his creativity, use of modern materials and technologies, expertise in Mathematics, and structural engineering.

Referring to the sculpture of a cactus made in stainless steel, Nambiar has said that it is closely related to his life. “The peculiarity of cactus is that it can survive even in the most adverse life conditions. It is strong and has a will to survive by overcoming all the difficulties in life. Though it has its thorns, cactus is harmless. The lifecycle of cactus has close resemblance to my life, which has witnessed countless ups and downs. I have gone through adverse situations in my life and there were times when I had nothing in my pocket to sustain a living. But I survived just like the cactus. All my creations are relted to my life experiences,” said Nambiar.

The exhibition has put on display many of his famous sculptures like Valampiri Shankha, Kannadi Bimbam (Mirror Idol) with Prabhavali, Trajectory of Planets, Shri chakra with mirror image, Symbol of growth, and Cactus bloom are some of the highlights of the exhibition. It has showcased the pictures of many of his outdoor sculptures in glass fibre reinforced concrete, cement and stone including the ‘Monument to the Assassinated’, which is Nambiar’s critique of the “surreptitious assassination of Bali of Kishkinda” by Lord Rama in the Ramayana.